Make sure to check your state and school financial aid application deadlines, as they are usually much earlier than the federal deadline. Some states just ask that students turn the FAFSA in as soon as possible after it becomes available on October 1, and school priority deadlines can occur as early as November 15.
Check your state deadline on the Federal Student Aid website, and check the deadlines for each school you’re interested in to ensure you get your application in on time. You should still submit your FAFSA even if you miss a state or school deadline, as you may still qualify for federal funding or other aid.
When Should I Submit the FAFSA?
Keeping track of all the deadlines can get complicated. A good rule of thumb is to turn it in as soon as you can after October 1 as some funding is first-come, first-serve. Students can prepare ahead of time by gathering their financial documents, driver’s license, Social Security card, and other required information to make the application process easier.
Key Benefits of Submitting Early:
You might miss out on free money if you wait. While this is not a concern for federal aid such as the Pell Grant, other aid funds do run out, including some state and institutional grants. Apply as early as you can to receive the full amount of aid you qualify for and to reduce the amount of money you’ll need to borrow.
You could get your financial aid offers earlier. This leaves you with more time to weigh your options if you are considering multiple schools.
You’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need to pay for college, which will give you more time to plan for the upcoming school year. This way, you can figure out how much you want to save for the next year, and whether you’ll want to apply for additional scholarships, find a job, or consider other avenues for additional funding.
Submitting the FAFSA opens up a range of possible aid opportunities for students. The most common types of aid include grants, work-study, and loans.
Grants are essentially free money awarded to students to pay for their education. They do not need to be repaid and are usually need-based, meaning they are awarded to students who have a high financial need.
The Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program, providing nearly $28 billion in gift aid to students during the 2019-20 school year. About one-third of undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients, who are students from lower-income families earning their first degree. The maximum Pell Grant amount, which can change annually, is $6,495 for the 2021-22 school year. The Pell Grant does not run out, so any eligible student will receive it.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a federal grant program reserved for low-income undergraduate students. This one is less common than the Pell Grant and is offered to students who have exceptional financial need. Students can receive between $100 and $4,000 from this grant program, depending on a variety of factors. FSEOG funding is first-come, first-serve, so qualified students who apply late may not receive an award if the funds have already been depleted.
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is for students who plan to work in education and it awards up to $4,000 per year to students enrolled in teacher preparation programs. This grant program is available to students in undergraduate and graduate programs. To receive this grant, students must payday loan fast Wisconsin teach for four years in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income students after they graduate.